Benny and Penny in Lights Out!
By Geoffrey Hayes
This is the fourth in the series by Geoffrey Hayes, and frankly there’s little to be said in addition to what I’ve already reviewed with The Big No-No!, The Toybreaker, and Just Pretend, as there’s a familiar pattern to be found here.
Not that that’s a problem at all, just as the three books before this one did, Lights Out! presents a lovely couple of characters having a simple little adventure, this time round it’s brother and sister Benny and Penny having a not as quiet bedtime as they should, Benny wants noise and dinosaurs, whilst little sis Penny just wants quiet and princesses.
And when Benny does decide it’s time to get into bed, he discovers his pirate hat isn’t there, it’s stuck in the playhouse, which is in the yard, in the dark, dark, scary yard.
Time to be brave, for first one then the other, and a chance for the younger reader to see the sort of bravery they can believe, childlike bravery to overcome a little fear. And to see a sister overcome her own fear to follow big brother out into the dark. It’s these lovely little touches that make Benny and Penny such a successful comic, so true to the age group it’s designed for.
It’s a very gentle sort of comic, with everything presented nice and simply, clarity ruling the day, the scare not too scary, the comedy very gentle, the arguing siblings always supporting each other by the end. Everything here is comforting and familiar, especially to those who’ve been reading the previous adventures of these two little mice. And there’s comedy, lovely, gentle, age appropriate comedy, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less funny:
This isn’t showy, overtly clever or cutting edge. This is gentle familiarity, clarity above all, light on the text, establishing a couple of loveable characters and giving their young readers some fun and funny little tales. It’s such a simple formula really, but it all stands or falls on the execution. And Hayes’ execution is so lovely, all drawn in coloured pencil, the softness in the pencils mirroring the gentleness of the story. Quite lovely.